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Monday December 5th, 2022

1,000+ unions to go on strike in Sri Lanka on April 28 demanding govt resignation

ECONOMYNEXT – Over 1,000 trade unions in Sri Lanka across multiple sectors have planned a massive island-wide one-day token strike for Thursday (28) in support of the ongoing wave of protests against the government, a spokesman for a union alliance said.

Convenor of the collective of unions Ravi Kumudesh told reporters that the campaign aims to pressure the government to resign.

Unions representing ports, railway, petroleum, health, banking and education sectors will take part in the strike, he said.

Protests have erupted islandwide against the government and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over what has become Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence. A daily protest organised and attended by people with no political party affiliation is being held in front of the presidential secretariat in Colombo for the 19th day running.

Protestors around the country demand that both the president and prime minister resign.

“The general public is protesting asking the government to go home,” said Kumudesh.

“President Rajapksa, due to his incompetence, ego and ignorance, has dragged the citizens of this country into a hole they’re struggling to get out of,” he said.

Over 1,000 unions will join the token strike planned for tomorrow to extend support to public protests, said Kumudesh.

“So far, no union has gone against the ongoing protests. On Thursday, all the worker forces in this country will protest against the government. We will raise black flags and all essential services will be carried out dressed in black,” he said.

“We ask the government to not to escalate this union strike to a continuous protest and leave for good,” he added.

Kumudesh said the organisation plans to expand the protest into a hartal – an Indian word for a total shutdown of workplaces – on May 06 if the government does not listen to the public demand and step down.

Teachers Union Secretary Joseph Stalin told EconomyNext on Wednesday that teachers a government at schools will not report for duty on the day of the strike.

“However, the decision to go for a hartal is not yet finalised. The committee will decide it in the coming days,” he said.

Administrator of the Ceylon Bank Employees Association Rohan Wijesundara, meanwhile, said employees of around 18 private and state sector banks will participate in the token strike on Thursday. However, banks have been informed to take measures to continue operations with available staff, he told EconomyNext.

“We have informed all members of the union representing all 18 state and private sector banks that we are participating in tomorrow’s strike,” he said.

“The managements of these banks have asked the employees to participate in the strike in a way that will not affect the banks’ day-to-day activities. Managing duties for the day is up to the management of those banks,” he added.  (Colombo/Apr27/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up in mid day trade on Monday (05), continuing the positive run for seven straight sessions on news over a possible debt restructuring from Paris Club, analysts said.

All Share Price Index gained by 0.69% or 60.10 points to 8,829, while the most liquid shares gained by 0.96% or 26.59 points to 2,801.

“The market was pushed up over the news of a potential 10 year debt moratorium,” analysts said.

The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis. 

Related – Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium in 15-year Sri Lanka debt re-structure: report

The market generated a revenue of 2.1 billion rupees.

Top gainers during 1130 hours were Expolanka, Browns Investment and LOLC.  (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

 

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Sri Lanka bond yields slightly down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were slightly down at open on Monday while t- bills were inactive, dealers said.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar, appreciated from 363.19 rupees on Friday.

“Only one bond is being quoted today, and the rest remaining unquoted” a dealer said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 quoted at 29.30/30.00 percent down from 29.50/75 percent at Friday’s close.(Colombo/ Dec 03/2022)

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Sri Lanka should prioritize RCEP , not small FTAs: economist

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should make joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a priority instead of trying to negotiate multiple smaller deals, an economist has said.

“We do not have the bandwidth in government and the technical resources to do multiple trade agreements,” Anushka Wijesinghe an economist who has been involved in trade told a business forum in Colombo.

“I think RCEP should be number one priority, rather than three or four tiny bilateral goods agreements.”

Sri Lanka is trying negotiate a free trade deal with China and expand an existing one with India.

Data show that Sri Lanka has been able to boost exports with FTAs.

Sri Lanka has high tariff protection which ultimately backfire.

Sri Lanka has protectionist business interests their profits from overpriced goods have had priority over ordinary consumers and overall economic efficiency that comes from free trade.

Sri Lanka also has monetary instability, which has worsened under flexible inflation targeting, with a series of currency crises coming in rapid successions.

Forex shortages from mis-targeted interest rates under flexible or discretionary monetary policies have discredited free trade and liberalization in general and strengthened the hands of economic nationalists, analysts say.

The country also has monetary instability, which makes life difficult not only for investors but all economic agents.

Over the past two decades Sri Lanka’s exports have not grown as much as competitors. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

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